Dutch evangelist and writer Corrie ten Boom is likely best known today for her best-selling autobiography The Hiding Place. Published in 1971, The Hiding Place describes the ten Boom family’s courageous efforts, inspired by their Christian faith, to hide Jewish refugees during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The book documents the ten Boom’s harrowing work in Amsterdam, ultimate discovery by the Nazis, and Corrie and her sister Betsie’s experiences in Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp in northern Germany, where Betsie died of starvation in December 1944. To date, The Hiding Place has sold millions of copies worldwide and was adapted into a film of the same title by World Wide Pictures in 1975.
While Corrie ten Boom’s legacy of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness during the horrors of World War II is remembered and celebrated, less well-known is her Christian service after the war. Following her release—due to a clerical error—in December 1944, Corrie returned to the Netherlands where she established a home called the Schapendunien for concentration camp survivors. That same year she founded the Ten Boom Foundation (reorganized as the Corrie ten Boom Stichting in 1960) and published her first account of her wartime experiences titled Gevangene En Toch… Herrinneringen Uit Scheveningen, Vught En Ravensbruck (1946). From 1945 until she retired from active ministry in 1977, Corrie became a sought-after writer and evangelist, publishing books in multiple languages and crisscrossing the globe to speak at events sponsored by Youth for Christ, J. Edwin Orr’s Revival Fellowship Team, the International Congress on World Evangelization, and eventually under the auspices of her own Foundation, among many others.
Today, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives is home to an assortment of Corrie ten Boom materials, including family photo albums, recordings of evangelistic messages, personal correspondence, and Corrie ten Boom Stichting publications.
This February, the Archives features its collection of Corrie ten Boom’s passports. Spanning 1948-1971, these documents record Corrie’s burgeoning evangelistic ministry, as she traveled through various military occupation zones in post-war Europe and later around the world. For the next three decades, Corrie visited more than 60 countries and six continents, proclaiming the Christian gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation. A sampling of countries included in Corrie’s passports include: East and West Germany, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Hungarian People’s Republic, Poland, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cuba, Mexico, USSR, Brazil, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.
The five passports below offer a brief glimpse into the extraordinary life of a Dutch watchmaker’s daughter who did not begin official ministry work until the age of 54, but whose remarkable story of Christian perseverance and forgiveness remains just as compelling today.
Corrie’s 1948 passport above lists her occupation as “Director of a sanatorium,” referring to the home she founded for concentration camp survivors in the Netherlands.
In 1949, Corrie rented a former concentration camp in Darmstadt, Germany, where she established a center for displaced persons and other war refugees, offering a safe place to recover from the trauma of the war. She continued to raise funds to support the camp until it closed in 1960.
Corrie’s 1952 passport reflects her growing evangelistic ministry outside of Europe, including travels to east Asia and Israel (see below).
A tourist visa (right) permitting entry to Japan in April 1952, declaring Corrie ten Boom is “Approved for entry into Japan by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” The wax stamp bears the imprint of the Dutch embassy.
Above: a travel visa to Israel issued in May 1953. Fourteen years later, the State of Israel recognized Corrie ten Boom as Righteous Among the Nations for her service to the Jewish community during World War II. As part of the recognition service, Corrie planted a tree in the Garden of the Righteous at the Yad Vashem (World Holocaust Remembrance Center) in Jerusalem in December 1967.
Corrie ten Boom’s 1963 passport reflects her growing career as a writer. Her first book, Gevangene En Toch (1946) was revised for an English edition in 1947. By 1963 she had published Amazing Love (1953), Common Sense Not Needed (1957), Viele Fragen? Nur Eine Antwort!, Defeated Enemies (1962), and Not Good If Detached (1963). Corrie also expanded her writing into newsletters in Dutch and English, updating supporters on her activities.
1964 marked another momentous occasion for Corrie ten Boom—a return to Ravensbrück concentration camp in what was then East Germany to speak to locals about her experiences as a prisoner there. In her newsletter, Corrie wrote, “Now I could tell here how I had come through alive and victorious, not through my faith, which was weak and wavering, but carried by Jesus Himself.” For more details about Corrie’s 1964 travels to Ravensbrück and Auschwitz in 1964, see the page from her newsletter It’s Harvest Time! at the bottom of the page.
In 1966, Corrie was invited to address the World Congress on Evangelism, an American-led conference held in Berlin whose stated theme was “One Race, One Gospel, One Task.” Organized and sponsored by Christianity Today and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Congress papers and reports illuminated the shifting center of global Christianity from Europe and North America to the global south. Corrie would late speak at the Congress’s successor, the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974.
Though increasingly plagued by ill health, Corrie’s later years were just as busy and brought increasing international fame. Corrie spent her 75th birthday working with World Vision in war-torn Vietnam where she earned the moniker “Double-old Grandmother.” In 1968, Corrie published The Hiding Place, a retelling of her wartime experiences in Amsterdam and Ravensbrück, which became a best-seller and BGEA-produced film in 1975. That same year, the Beje, the ten Boom home in Amsterdam, opened to the public as a museum commemorating the family’s heroic sacrifices during the war. Corrie retired from evangelistic ministry in 1977 and relocate to California, where she suffered a series of strokes and in 1983 died on her birthday (April 15) at the age of 91.
For more information about Corrie ten Boom’s life and ministry, visit Collection 78: Ephemera of Corrie ten Boom.
Below: The November-December 1964 issue of Corrie ten Boom’s newsletter, It’s Harvest Time! This issue describes Corrie’s first visit to East Germany since her release from Ravensbrück.